9th Age: Dread Elves vs. Dwarven Holds


The holidays and new year brought a longer pause in playing, but on 23.01. SS and I got together to test the 0.11 rules. He brought is sturdy Dwarves to battle my sleek Dread Elves. Simultaneously JB and EM battled it out with Warriors of the Dark Gods and the Vampire Covenant.

We agreed on 2000 points, but kept playing without secondary objectives and a normal battle line. Next time though, we certainly bring the official rules to see what the hype about scoring units is all about.

The Bleak Legion02-elfen

  • Dread Prince, General, Fleet Commander, Ring of Shadows, Hardened Shield, Ogre Sword, Lucky Charm, Heavy Armour
  • Cult High Priest, Cult of Nabh, Charm of Cursed Iron, Headman’s Axe, Crimson Mail
  • Captain, Battle Standard Bearer, Fleet Commander, Dragonscale Helm, Kingslayer, Heavy Armour, Shield
  • Oracle, Wizard Level 2, Path of Shadow, Dispel Scroll
  • 5x Dark Raiders, Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 5x Dark Raiders, Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 24x Dread Legionnaires, Spears, Heavy Armour, Full Command, Banner of the Relentless Company
  • 21x Executioners, Full Command, Banner of Speed
  • 7x Dark Acolytes
  • 3x Medusae, Champion

This time I decided for an infantry heavy list without any major shooting. I wanted to see whether my heroes would be able to smash the Dwarves and wanted to attack swiftly before his artillery would be able to kill too much of my stuff. For this I equipped my characters with anti-shooting equipment (Charm and Ring).

Dwarven Holds01-zwerge

  • King on Shield Bearers
  • Master Engineer
  • Runic Smith
  • Thane, Battel Standard Bearer
  • 20x Greybeards, Full Command
  • 20x Clan Marksmen, Musician, Handguns
  • 15x Seekers
  • Field Artillery, Cannon, Engineering Rune
  • Tunnel Artillery, Organ Gun, Engineering Rune
  • Vengeance Seeker
  • Vengeance Seeker
  • 20x King’s Guard, Full Command, Runic Standard of Dismay

SS brought a balanced list, with three infantry blocks and three shooters. He didn’t have the time to contemplate the best runic setup for his characters, so they were underpowered compared to my maxed out fighter heroes.

Terrain, Magic and Army Setup03-aufstellung

Having no shooting, I wanted as many forests and blocking terrain as possible to get some cover. The Dwarves naturally wanted hills in the deployment zone for their shooting units.

On spells I got Turn to Smoke (strength hex) and Shadow Miasma. The Runic Smith brought the Rune of Reckoning (re-roll ToHit), Rune of Resilience (enemies suffer -1 on ToWound rolls), and Rune of Resolve (6“ magical move).

After my first drop of Dark Raiders, the Dwarves revealed their battle plan and took full deployment. I reacted by placing the Dark Raiders and Acolytes on a far flank and placed my combat blocks behind forest cover, with the Medusae as light flank guard.

Turn 1 – Dwarven Holds

Movement: The Vengeance Seekers moved forward aggressively. The lower one into the forest. The Seekers followed on the flank. While the Vengeance Seeker faced outward to have a charge range for my Dark Raiders. The rest moved only slightly

Magic: 2+1, no channels. He rolls twice and fails the casting value both times. Magic and Dwarves just doesn’t go together.


  • Master Engineer increases range of Clan Marksmen
  • Clan Marksmen on Executioners: Four wounds
  • Cannon on Executioners: Hits, but first save is successful
  • Organ Gun on Legionnaires: No hits (SS forgot the x2 for the shots here, but needed to hit on 7)

Close Combat: None.

Turn 1 – Dread Elves

Movement: Despite the Vengeance Seeker being in range, I did not declare any charges. On the upper flank I used the Seekers as a shield for my Dark Raiders and moved directly on their side. This way, the Vengeance Seeker could not charge me. On the lower flank, the Dark Raiders and Acolytes made hast. The Medusae moved right on front of the Vengeance Seker and provided some blocking for the characteres in my Executioner unit, as they were basically unprotected. The Legionnaires used their banner to move forward but barely stay out of short range from the Marksmen and the Kingsguard also needed an eight to charge me.

Magic: 2+1, no channel. Shadow Miasma on Clan Marksmen (6+4+3) is too high for the Dwarves to dispel. They lose two ballistic skill. The lore attribute moves the Cult High Priest from the Executioners to the Legionnaires.


  • Medusae on Vengeance Seeker: No wounds.
  • Dark Raiders on Greybeards: One wound.
  • Dark Raiders on King’s Guard: No wounds.

Close Combat: None.04-de1

Turn 2 – Dwarven Holds

Movement: The Vengeance Seeker charges the Medusa. Stand & Shoot does not do any wounds. The King’s Guard charges the Legionnaires, but fails horribly (1+1).

The Seekers do a strange move and turn towards the Dark Raiders, obviously SS forgot, they were Skirmishers and could easily have blocked the way to the Organ Gun. The Vengeance Seeker moves into the centre to do a flank charge. The Greybards do barely move.

Magic: 5+4, no channels. Rune of Reckoning on King’s Guard (5+3+2) and Rune of Resilience on King’s Guard (3+2) are both uncontested. Rune of Resolve is successfully dispelled with all dispel dice.


  • Clan Marksmen on Dread Legionnaires get +1 ToHit from Master Engineer: One wound.
  • Organ Gun on Dark Raiders: Ten shots, two dead.
  • Cannon on Executioners: Two wounds.

Close Combat: The crazy Dwarf Berserker creates seven attacks and kills one Medusa outright. The Medusae strike back, but manage only two wounds. The Medusae stand on -2.05-dh2

Turn 2 – Dread Elves

Movement: Time for the Dread Elves to deliver the pain. Both Dark Raider units charge a war machine and make it easily. The Dread Legionnaires charge the Clan Marksmen. Stand & shoot kills three elves. Again I forgot, that the Cult High Priest would have negated the swiftstride of the unit. The unit needed a seven and rolled ten.

The Executioners do a swift reform to be able to move past the Medusae. The Dark Acolytes position themselves for a nice flank charge.

Magic: 6+2, Dread Elves channel. Shadow Miasma (6+4+4+4) is dispelled with all dice. Turn to Smoke (6+4+2+1) on the Vengeance Seeker is successful.

Shooting: None.

Close Combat:

  • Dark Raiders on Organ Cannon do two wounds. The crew holds on steadfast.
  • The Vengeance Seeker fluffs his attacks. The Medusae end him.
  • The heroes in the Legionnaire unit wreak terrible havoc amongst the Marksmen. At the end of the combat phase not a single Elf died and the remaining survivors flee, not very far thanks to the Fleet Commander. They are wiped out and the Dread Elves overrun into the cannon.
  • We don’t even roll for this fight and immediately remove the cannon from the game.


Turn 3 – Dwarven Holds

Movement: King’s Guard and Vengeance Seeker attack the Executioners. The King’s Guard needing a nine doesn’t get in, but the Vengeance Seeker rolls ten and connects.

The Greybeards and Seekers face towards the centre, but it seems too late.

Magic: 6+2, Dark Elves channel. Rune of Resilience (3+2+1) is dispelled (5+2). Rune of Reckoning (5) is also dispelled (two dice). Rune of Resolve (three dice) suffers the same fate (three dice).

Shooting: None.

Close Combat: I get lucky again, the Vengeance Seeker only creates three attacks. SS forgets his Seeker has hatred and so he only deals one wound. The Executioners do the same and win combat and reform towards the Vengeance Seeker. The Dark Raiders kill the last crew member and reform.07-dh3

Turn 3 – Dread Elves

Movement: A glorious, cruel, and devastating four side charge shall spell defeat for the Dwarven King. The cavalry and Legionnaires get in without rolling dice. The Medusae roll high and make the charge complete.

Magic: 6+4, no channels. Miasma on King’s Guard is successful, despite it being 4:6 dice. Adding insult to injury, the King’s Guard loses 3 weapon skill. Turn to Smoke on the Vengeance Seeker is also successful.

Shooting: None.

Close Combat: The combat with the King’s Guard is a massacre. After the Dread Elves made all their attacks, only three or four King’s Guard and the King remain. The returning attacks prove of little value being warded by the Acolyte’s ward save or just some wounds on a Medusa.

At this point the game is basically over as SS also forgot his body guard rule and fled. We played it until the end (which was when the last Dwarf was killed. The Dark Raiders effectively blocker the Greybeards for one round. Afterwards the Seekers killed some Spearelves on combat, but were wiped out quickly. The Greybeards did shortly after. but before that the Executioner’s were wiped out, as the Oracle created a miscast explosion and got sucked into the abyss.08-de3



Rule Set & Balance

It became clear to me, that the Dwarven players need to invest much more time into their army building. Which runes do I need for perfect outfit. Where should the King be. Does a unit need another sturdy body or more damage output.

The best unit on the Dwarven side were easily the Vengeance Seekers. This guys are just fantastic and only balanced, by being in rare. I would easily field five or six if allowed. Together with the Seekers they need to run distraction before the Dwarven battle line, something SS failed to do with his seekers and got severly punished. I like that Dwarves need to do that and cannot just build a straight gun line and throw some dice at the opponent.

Not very impressive was the Organ Gun. It seems the war machine just does not create enough shots to be truly scary.

The 0.11 magic rules caused me to get only minimal magic. The system seems good for casting and making the level 4 mages non-mandatory, but bound spells of the Dwarves still seem very weak. I know they already got buffed with the new rules, but maybe not enough.

The Dread Elves felt strong like always, because I could strike first consistenly and was fast in close combat, with my killy heroes, especially the Cult High Priest with her terrible 5A + I8 + S7 + MW(2) + Hatred + Poison combination.

The Executioners felt surprisingly weak and once again proved to be a magnet for every shot the enemy can take. My MVP certainly were the Dark Raiders again, mopping up the flanks.

Initially I thought the removal of vanguard from the Dark Acolytes is not really an issue, but now it becomes clear, that this is a huge difference, as they constantly lag one turn behind the Dark Raiders. I still think they are caught between being a ranged unit (Darts and Magic Missile) and a combat unit (2A, S4, poison, Hex) and think that one should be given up to remove this setup that will always negate one of their strenghts. Personally I’d rather see the Wizard Conclave with a second spell for close combat (augment or hex) and the poison darts and Bolt of Darkness removed.

Game Deciding Moments

Sadly SS missed some of his special rules (grudge, bodyguard, skirmisher) and so could not recover from some crucial moves.

First mistake was with deployment. I am still not sold on the validity of always deploying the whole army to get first turn. Moving a unit halfway across the table costs more than one turn. Anyway the Dwarves were far too open in this game. They could have easily used the hill as their most middle marker and deploy to the flank. This way they wouldn’t have exposed their flanks. Additionally, when you know you get first turn, you can deploy Marksmen farther away, as shooting will be difficult anyway and distance to enemy is increased.

For the upper flank the Vengeance Seeker alone would have been enough to clean the Dark Raiders. This way, the Dark Raiders could use the Seekers as cover. With the successful charges as early as turn two, the game was basically over, as the Dwarven fighter blocks were in disarray and not positioned to take a counter charge.

Additionally SS once again rolled really bad. The dice gods remain on my side, prove that some sacrifices in the cellar are worth it every time 😉


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